It was Sunday morning July 4, 1982, and Kokomo, like the rest of the nation, would be celebrating with fireworks, patriotic parades and picnics. This morning entered with remnants of the previous day’s heat. It was going to be another scorcher, and if I wanted to pick blackberries I knew I had to go early.
"Time to get up, Adam, we’re pickin berries this morning, remember?" He awoke with his usually sweet smile.
“Morning, Mom.” Adam slowly rolled out of bed and dressed for the blackberry picking he had promised to help me with. We were planning to have a cookout later in the afternoon. I wanted to bake a fresh blackberry cobbler, partly because I liked blackberry cobbler, partly because it reminded me of my childhood, and partly because the thought of going to the woods was appealing to me after spending the past week on the road and in the hospital with my mother.
I had fond memories of picking berries with my mother and grandmother when I was a child living on a small island off the coast of Georgia. I recalled one particular berry pickin’ time with my grandmother when she spotted a rattlesnake. Instead of being frightened, my grandmother said, “Ya might as well go away, Mr. Snake. These berries are mine. Paige stand real still and he’ll go away.” I had been impressed with the lack of fear my grandmother showed toward that rattlesnake. I was ready to drop my bucket and haul off for home, but I had been frozen with fear. If I moved I would be disobeying my grandmother and that might be worse than being bitten by a diamondback rattlesnake. I recall the snake incident every time I pick berries. It seemed like, come the fourth of July, I always had to have a blackberry cobbler.
Now it looked like Mama would never pick blackberries again. The stroke had left her paralyzed on one side and the doctors weren't sure what her mental capacity was going to be. Such a simple task, picking blackberries, but it took physical and mental well being and I’m not sure that my mother would ever be in good physical or mental health again. Seeing my mother with her head shaved and paralyzed on one side had torn at the center of my soul. I had always thought that my mother would always be just a phone call away. I was losing the most stable part of my life. My mother had been there for me whenever I needed her and now I needed to be there for her. It had been hard to leave her. “Mama, I’ll be back to take care of you when they let you out of the hospital,” I had told her and would do just that. It was the least I could do for her. She had always been there for me and I would be there for her.